By CHARLES ANDREWS
GET LOST, MUSE
Last week I wrote, “Hang on tight. I’m a-goin’ for a bit of a wild ride… from Gandhi to district voting to the Harlem Renaissance to…” and I noted, “We’re all influenced by what comes into our sphere, and how we process it from our unique history, beliefs, commitments.”
Now I feel really compelled to take that ride, but I won’t. I’m chickening out. I’ll mention it at the end, but I’m feeling grateful right now — I always strive for an attitude of gratitude — so I’m going to go this route instead:
It seems like a good time to thank everyone. Every single week, increasingly through the life of this column, I get emails from people I don’t know and have never heard from before. I remember fondly one gentleman a couple years ago who wrote that he was in his late 80s and “had never written to a newspaper columnist before.”
I am always amazed that nearly all the correspondence I get is positive. I still expect it to be the opposite, especially right after I’ve taken a hard swipe at something. Back in my college journalism days, before Internets, the rule of thumb was, for every person who takes the time to write a letter there are 100 or more out there who felt the same way, but didn’t write, both praise and slams.
Almost all of what I get is: please keep it up, keep writing what you do, keep exposing what’s going on in this city and calling for right action because no one else is (not true, actually, but thanks), we need your voice. When I begin to feel that it’s not doing any good, nothing has changed and it never will, people don’t care, money rules — I get those notes, I smile, and I know I must carry on. It’s what keeps me going.
SPECIAL APPRECIATION AND THANKS
Of course go out to the publisher, owners and editors of the Daily Press, for giving me this platform, this opportunity, this privilege. My bosses and I have not always had an easy relationship but I feel we have come to know and respect one another much more over these seven years, and I very much value that.
I often get asked how much they censor what I write. It should be obvious, but the answer is, not at all. There are rare times when I’ve included something that’s not a good idea, but they always point it out rather than demand a revision, I see the point, agree, and we’re good. (Does not mean they like or agree with a lot of what I write.) The rest of the staff, so very good at what they do, have been supportive too.
A number of my friends do not like some of what they see in the SMDP but as a lifelong journalist, let me tell ya Santa Monica, you are lucky to have this good rag, especially in these times, you have no idea. A mighty thank you to all our discerning but faithful readers. (Very few have any clue how near-miraculous it is to put out a newspaper daily with such a small staff.)
That I’ve assured my employment and continued readership for another year by kissing everyone’s behind, I’ll try to clear up my mysterious intro above.
While I have been aware since my college newspaper days that only rookies write about the process — readers don’t care, just review the concert, ya jerk — I will explain here that my MO is usually to wait for some topic and approach to kind of take over, before I make my choice for that week. That process has evolved and I now trust it.
But this week there was a confusing mix of emotional events persisting, but not with a clear message, even more than the previous week. One was learning of the sudden (natural causes) death of a friend of mine in Albuquerque, a high school classmate, Rick Bressan. Much pause for reflection, bringing up for me my 30 years in that magical/terrible city, my parents (long gone), my son’s recent murder there, my wife’s successful battle against cancer, my inherited heart disease and bypass surgery, even my funky knees now threatening my basketball career (ha!). Ah, mortality. Rick was a smart, compassionate, generous, well-loved, very successful businessman and family man and I liked him a lot, and it was interesting to find out one time that this good Catholic supported tRump. Pause, recalibrate. Thank you for that, Rick, seriously, and for so much more. You made a difference for good in the lives of many.
The past week I also took in moving jazz and classical concerts, pondering anew the magic of music. I watched again, with my family, the doc on Mr. Rogers and teared up, again. I saw my wife realize, against all odds, her lifelong dream of recording an album of her original songs in a real studio with real musicians (most of them Samohi friends of my daughter), accompanied by that same daughter’s gorgeous harmonies. I attended an interesting neighborhood group meeting, discussing overdevelopment. I had a lovely long chat over coffee with our mayor, not discussing issues much but just getting to know each other a little. What a roller coaster, what a world.
Charles Andrews has lived in Santa Monica for 33 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world. Really. Send love and/or rebuke to him at firstname.lastname@example.org